It looks like more fuel has been added to the legal firestorm between Miami-Dade County and the Genting Group.
The Malaysian gaming giant has reportedly saved millions on property taxes at its bayfront development site by appealing its assessed value multiple times, spurring lawsuits between both Genting and the county.
In 2011, Genting paid $236 million to buy the iconic Miami Herald building and several other properties along Biscayne Boulevard for a total of 14 acres. The company planned to erect a massive gaming and leisure complex dubbed Resorts World Miami, though the site has stagnated since Genting finished demolishing the former Herald building last year.
Behind the scenes, however, Genting was maneuvering to shave costs from its land holdings.
As the Miami Herald reported, the company has repeatedly — and successfully — appealed county property appraiser’s valuations of its bayfront holdings for the past three years.
The tax breaks were handed down by the Value Adjustment Board, a county agency made up of two Miami-Dade commissioners, two citizens and a county school board member, who evaluate appeals for property owners seeking to challenge their tax assessments.
In 2012, the board cut Genting’s assessed property values to $88 million — a dramatic decrease from the property appraiser’s assessment of $132 million, according to the Herald.
In 2013, the board reduced the property appraiser’s assessment by 25 percent, and then again in 2014 by 20 percent, according to county records cited by the Herald.
As a result of those value cuts, Miami-Dade has to refund more than $2.3 million to Genting from property taxes the company already paid before the appeals went through — plus 12 percent interest.
It’s not unusual for property owners to successfully appeal their assessed values, but as the Herald pointed out, Genting’s case is unprecedented for the sheer size of its tax break.
The county attorney’s office has launched three suits against Genting’s subsidiary that owns the properties, Resorts World Miami, alleging the value cuts went too far. Genting fired back with its own suit against Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia, saying his office’s valuations were too high.
Last month, Genting also filed a separate suit against Miami-Dade and the state attorney’s office to try and force the allowance of slots and card games at the former Omni mall in downtown Miami, which it also owns. [Miami Herald] — Sean Stewart-Muniz